Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Waffling about color order

I finished the blanket and it has turned out very well. I am quite happy with it in all respects except for the fact that I have a decent amount of the bulky Lopi-like yarn left! I may be able to make a shawl or even a small rug with the remnants. Oh well. At least there is less.

That is how much is left. I need to weigh each color so I know approximately how much yardage there is. There is one full skein of the magenta.

The blanket panels are joined by linking the loops on the sides. One loop from one panel is pulled through the corresponding loop on the other panel. Then you alternate that up the sides of the panels. The last loop is secured by pulling part of the fringe through it. When the fringe is knotted, the loop is secure. It is an easy way to join. In the photo above I had just finished joining the three panels. It goes fast.

 This is a closeup of the join before finishing.
 After washing, the join flattens out. I fulled the blanket because it was a loosely spun yarn. As you all know, Lopi-like yarns full very easily. One trip through the handwash cycle on the washing machine and it is a nice fabric. This is one side of the join.

 This is the other.

The fringe took forever. I thought I could twist it with my fringe twister but with 90 ends on each panel, I had to pick either 2 or 3 ends in each fringe section. 5 is the other factor of 90 and I thought 5 was too big a number for twisting or braiding as this is bulky yarn. I decided on 3 and thought I could make a nice 3 ply twisted fringe. But it wasn't working. I have no idea why. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out the problem, I decided to just braid the fringe. Since it was knotted in 3's, that was easy. Except that a couple of the ends had frayed and come apart. I had to secure those by adding a neighboring end to strengthen it. So some sections are 4 ends.  So much for my exact mathematics!

It took 30 mins per panel end to braid and knot the bottom of the fringe. I didn't time the removal of the waste yarn and the knotting of the fringe at the top but that was a lot less per section.

I also used a technique I learned from one of the videos I have. Instead of knotting 3 (or however many) adjacent ends together, which leaves a portion of the weft exposed, one exchanges ends between groups so that they cross after the weft and that prevents those little gaps between fringe groups. To do this with an example:
First group: Ends 1, 2, 4 (3 and 4 change groups)
Second group: Ends 3, 5, 7 (6 and 7 change groups)
Third group: Ends 6, 8, 10 (9 and 10 change groups)
Fourth group: Ends 10, 11, 13 (12 and 13 change groups)
This is the finished blanket on a queen sized bed. It looks much nicer after finishing. I am going to cut the knots off the fringe as the braids are fulled and shouldn't come apart. I am just wondering if I should send it through the wash one more time. I can still separate the warp and the weft if I push with my finger. One of the finishing videos I watched says that woolen spun yarn should be fulled till the warp and the weft become a single cohesive fabric. I haven't decided whether to wash it one more time or not.

I started Grapevine. As usual, I have to increase the depth to the armhole. I don't know why but every pattern i've followed has about a 7" depth to the armhole. I feel that is too tight and I feel constrained in moving my arms. I guess I just have wide shoulders and a bigger upper arm.
I have about 18 more rounds to the sleeve/body separation.

Now on to the waffling.

The rigid heddle weaving group in Ravelry has a monthly theme for weave-alongs. It is good because it gives you ideas and allows you to explore new things. The rag rug resulted from April's Weave with Fabric theme.  June's theme is Weave a Color Gamp.  A color gamp is a way to explore how colors interact with each other. You warp with a set of colors and then weave with the same colors in the same order. But the weft pattern can be different - different widths of color, interspersed with other colors, etc.

Since I am weaving to use up my stash in useful ways, I picked a selection of Shetland jumperweight yarns that weren't earmarked for a fair-isle project. I am having real difficulty deciding the order of the colors.
 I also decided to look at the values. Sequence C has them in a gradual color shifting order where I am picking up the tweed colors in the next yarn. Sequence D has them more in an alternating value order with the higher value yarns more evenly spread across the warp.
I am still in 2 minds about which one to warp. I only have 1 ball each of the gold and the green so I was happy to see that there is enough in one ball of each color to do a scarf. I have 1 extra ball of the blue and the rest are the duller colors in the sequence except for the burgundy. I have a lot of that.

I think I will do a color in weave pattern sampler with the remaining yarn exploring how patterns look when you alternate light and dark colors. Here is one example.

But first I have to decide on the order for the gamp. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why do I keep calling it a baby blanket?

Update: I hit publish before I realized that I hadn't provided finished pictures of the zippered hoodie or the sock yarn!

 From left to right: the 3 ply sock yarn, the 2 ply from the remnants of the 2 bobbins, and the 2 ply from the last bobbin that had twist added to it and then it was plied on itself. I think I need to cut down on the plying twist in the sock yarn in the future.
The zippered hoodie with zipper sewn in and blocked. The i-cord edge is rolling. I think I am going to put a thin cord into the edge on the hood and ignore the others - pretend they are rolled edges.

I have been weaving on the baby blanket (there I did it again!) and making excellent progress. There are two reasons for that:

  1. I am only working on one craft right now - weaving. No knitting or spinning WIPs
  2. It is in bulky yarn! 
There are 3 panels and I divided up the colors based on quantity of each and how much I needed for each panel.
 Middle panel.
 Left panel.
Right panel.

So far I am half way through the second panel. I started with the middle panel because it had a red middle section and loops on both sides. The loops are used to join the panels. It is from Weave a No-Sew Baby Blanket from Interweave. The video shows the loops on both sides as Sara Bixler (the weaver) explains the technique. I thought it would be best to start exactly as indicated in the video and then modify for my own purposes. I didn't want loops on the outer edges of my blanket so I am only doing loops on one side on the two outer panels. And yes, this is why keep calling it my baby blanket!

 The warping is pretty fast - again because it is fat yarn. The two white strings on either side of the warp are used to make the loops. Every other weft pick is woven around the strings to create the loops.

 Finished middle panel off the loom. You can see the loops on both sides. The panels have to be joined before the fringes are knotted and the blanket wet-finished.

 Warp for the right side panel. This one has loops only on the left side. So there is only one string. I warped as far as I could do on the right until I ran out of the yarn in the ball and didn't want to go get another ball and tie it on. I am really not looking for symmetry in this blanket as there is so much asymmetry in the colors. The stripes are relatively symmetric and there is a wide horizontal band of a different color in each panel at the same place. In the middle panel, this stripe is red. On the two outer ones it is a violet.

You can see the violet in the photo above. I am much further along and you can't see the blue and red weft stripes any more. They have rolled onto the cloth beam.

I have also been planning my next knitting. As I said earlier, I am supposed to start Flieder. This is the yarn I am planning to use.
However, my brain is not in the mood for something as complex as Flieder. I think I am going to start it but I am also going to start a basic sweater that is mindless. I was going to make up my own but found this lovely one on Ravelry. The neckline is different from what I normally do and so I thought I'd knit it. My gauge is slightly off so I will have to do some calculations anyway.
It is called Grapevine and the designer is Heidi Kirmaier who designs classic elegant patterns.

The yarn that is calling to me to knit it is this color, again in Rowan Calmer. It is called Laurel and it reminds me of the young leaves of trees in the spring.

I still haven't settled on a spinning project. I am torn between spinning a DK with a gradient just to mix up what I've been spinning, or pulling out the Into The Whirled Odds and Ends and doing a random spin. Eventually my brain will tell me what to do. Until then I'm taking a break from spinning.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

No current WIPs!

I just finished the zippered hoodie. It is soaking prior to being blocked. And I finished the sock yarn spin yesterday. Nothing on the loom. It is sort of weird to be starting so many new projects. I am a monogamous crafter in general. I have a travel knitting project that I only work on when traveling. It is a lightweight yarn and a lace pattern that is not too complex. But otherwise, it is one project at a time.

I do have a spindle spinning project that is a WIP. I may pick it up again. I've been very focused on the minispinner for a while now. Anyway, I am in no hurry to start spinning something new. I have things I want to accomplish on the loom and in knitting and the garden work is in full swing.

Allergies have been keeping me indoors which is why I am being so productive. I hope the trees will be done with their flowering soon and then I can go out and work. The weeds have been given a boost by the rain and cool weather.

 The first two bobbins of the sock yarn were rather boring. There were a few spots here and there that were not blue or white. The objective here was to spin 3 low-twist single and then ply them higher-twist. It was a bit boring to do low-twist as one has to be careful to add enough twist to keep the singles together.  It requires attention and concentration. I watched some Patsy Z spinning videos to entertain me along with a couple of Tom Knisely's weaving videos.

The third singles had all the color. The braid had the bright color in one section so I divided it lengthwise into 3 instead of stripping the width into thirds. It was more fun spinning the third singles.
 There are the three of them lined up. They look like they have the same amount of singles on them, right? Wrong! The colored one on the right ran out first. I must have either added more twist to it or spun it slightly thicker.

My normal solution to running out of yarn on one bobbin in a 3-ply is to make a plying bracelet from the bobbin with the most yarn left and continue spinning a 3-ply. But when I tried to do that with the bobbin on the left which had the most yarn, I had major problems. The singles kept drifting apart. I tried a few times to restart but it was futile. I didn't realize the problem then or I could have fixed it a different way. Anyway, I chose to just make a 2-ply with the 2 bobbins.

Then I ran out of singles on the middle bobbin. Now I had to do something with the left bobbin as it still had a good bit of singles on it. I went back to the plying bracelet and had the same problem. The light bulb finally went on! Winding the plying bracelet was removing twist from the singles.  Since these were low-twist singles, enough was being removed that I no longer had sufficient twist to keep the yarn together. Twist is glue. I had no glue!

Once I realized that, I decided to just run that bobbin through the wheel again and add twist. It fell apart a few times, which made me realize that I had added a little too little twist to this bobbin, unlike the other two. But I managed to finish it, make a plying bracelet, and plied it back on itself. It fell apart towards the end and I gave up.

 Here's the pathetic little bundle of lost fibers with a pen on the side for context. I am a bit bummed. I have some nice 3-ply and two smaller bits of 2-ply. I don't know yet if I have enough yardage in the 3-ply for socks. If not, I'll make a shawl.

I think I went a little too thin and too low-twist on this. Looking at the final yarn, I could have easily drafted thicker. It is a light fingering weight, not a true sock yarn. Photos are forthcoming after it has dried. I might do a quick update tomorrow with just photos if everything dries.

On to the zippered Calmer hoodie. I extended the pockets and the body by 2" and then joined the bottoms of the pockets to the body and did an i-cord BO. It was rolling and I'm hoping blocking will stop that. Otherwise, I will have to do another attached i-cord to make a speed bump - as Meg Swansen says. Attached i-cord is not my favorite thing. So here's hoping it will stay flat.

I decided to finish the pockets before I did the sleeves in case there were problems and I had to rip stuff out. In a way it was good. Finishing as you go along means less finishing at the end. The pockets came out well except where they separate from the body. I was very concerned about that stress being put on 2 sts - one that remained with the body and one that became the pocket - right next to each other. I strengthened that section from the back by duplicate stitching across two rows and about 5-6 sts on each row at that point. I feel better about it now. This is my first time doing an angled pocket like this. I have to think about how I can reinforce that part while knitting.

That is the body with the pickets finished. I did a sort of duplicate st to join that straight end where I lengthened the pockets. It was putting an edge on top of a flat stockinette surface so I duplicate stitched over the edge and the corresponding column of sts on the body. I think it came out quite well.

After that I did the sleeves. I decided to do them on dpns because knitting on dpns is faster for me. However, I picked up the US size 7 dpns (4.5 mm) vs. the US size 8 I had used for the body! I didn't realize this till I finished the second sleeve. I tried on the sleeves as I knit to make sure they fit well so the fit is not an issue. It is that I have a bit more dense sleeves and used up more yarn and knit more sts than I needed to.

I had a lot of sts at the top of the sleeve so I made a little gusset there. I like this and will do it again in the future.

First sleeve done.

I didn't take a photo after the second sleeve. Here is the completed sweater, pre-zipper and blocking. I had to buy the zipper online because the local fabric store didn't have a separating zipper in the 20" size that was even remotely the same color. I am pretty happy with the match. The exact match was a custom order and I had to buy 25 in order to get it. This was the closest in-stock color they had. Not bad at all. https://www.zipperstop.com/ is the source. I paid more in shipping than the zipper cost but it wasn't much and it was easier to get it that way than go driving around looking for matches.

I am very pleased with the hood. I don't like the pointy hoods that most patterns have. I liked the shaping on Rogue, but it is in Aran weight. Also some of the completed garments had a bit of a gather at the top of the hood. So I took that shaping, modified it for the DK weight, and then changed it up a bit to make this hood. I think it will block out smooth. It fits well. Again, I am hoping the i-cord will stop rolling once it is blocked.

I found a whole bunch of bulky Lopi in the stash. I think there is enough to make a 3-panel blanket on the rigid heddle loom.

These are the colors. There are 9 skeins of the magenta in the middle, 3 of the violet on the top left and 1 skein of the red. The rest are what you see. I think I will warp with the magenta, using stripes of the others as follows:

  1. One panel will have the olive stripe outlined in yellow
  2. Second panel will have the olive stripe outlined in blue
  3. Third panel will have the red stripe outlined in pale gray

I am not sure if I will do one wide stripe or a couple of narrower ones. It depends on how much of the outline color I have. It will be asymmetric so I will just use what I have and decide as I warp. This is why these colors are going to be in the warp so I can figure out a way to use up as many of them as I can.

The weft will be mostly magenta with violet stripes. I have some dark gray and quite a bit of the red so I may outline the violet with either the red or the gray or both. Again, I'll wing it and I am not going to match the stripes on the panels.

I was concerned that all the colors have the same value. So I took a black and white photo to check. Guess what? I was right. There is a little variation but most of the colors are in the same value. Oh well. I want to use up the yarn and make something useful. This was more to train my eye than to make decisions. But at least the outline of each stripe and the stripe are different values.

This is what I am going to start next. I hope to warp the loom for the first panel this weekend.

On the knitting front, I am going to start a Niebling. One of my spinning guild members and I discussed started a KAL to knit Flieder. She is making a tablecloth and I want to make a shawl. She started in Feb but I was busy with the sweater so I haven't started yet. I am going to make 5 sections of the pattern rather than the full 8. This way it will stay on my shoulders. I have wound a teal colored Cheryl Oberle Dancing Fibers cobweight alpaca. I have made copies of the charts. So I am ready and that will also be starting up in the next week or so.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A short update

It has been a quiet week on the fiber front. I decided not to do anything on the loom while I caught up on knitting. And I've done some of that. I also have been spinning

I had made triangular pockets on the sweater. As a reminder, here is the last photo I posted of the pocket.

The issue here is that things can fall out of the pocket since it has no depth. For Cross Pockets, the designer has you knit a pocket extension that hangs behind the bottom band. However, that is a wide bottom band. I am just doing an icord at the bottom. So I needed to do something different to make the pockets functional.

I decided to add 2 inches to the length (pocket and body) where I would sew up the side of the pocket so it was vertical. That would achieve the same result as the pocket extension. In order to do this, I had to lengthen the pocket I was knitting, put the sts from the body and the other pocket on to the needles and add the length, and then go ahead and join them. 

So that is what I've been doing. I just finished the icord BO on Monday. I was going to graft the beginning to the end and then finish the pocket area to make sure it all lays flat and neat before I move on to the sleeves. But I have been having itchy eyes due to allergies. I scratched at them on Monday night and they are all swollen. It is better today but I couldn't see very well yesterday. So there was no fine finishing work going on yesterday. I hope to get to it today and will have photos in my next post.

In the meantime, I have spinning photos. I have been spinning the stretchy 3-ply sock yarn in a full project quantity. In the process, I realized that you only really see the colors in a braid when you are spinning. Looking at the braid only lets you see the large color blocks and not the lovely transitions that occur between colors. 

This was the braid. As you can see, it is mostly blues with some yellow and bright green in it. It looked pretty monochromatic to me. When I opened it up, I realized that most of the yellows were concentrated in one area of the braid. If I split it vertically into 3 as I usually do, there would be  only one section of the yarn that would have the yellow. So I split it horizontally into 3. This way the yellow would be predominant in one ply and be spread across the whole length of the yarn. 

However, as I started spinning, I realized that there are sections of green in other areas. This is from the first ply.

And some lovely violets and ceruleans in the second ply. The cerulean is hidden under the very light blue layer on the left of the bobbin. The violet was surprising. After I spun this and I looked back at the original braid, the green and the violet jumped out at me. But when I first looked at it, they were overwhelmed by the blue and the yellow-green. I am really looking forward to this yarn and I may not use it for socks after all. The colors would make a very wearable shawl with my usual uniform of blue jeans and T-shirts.

This is the first bobbin, all spun up. You can see the green in the single here. Of course, when it is plied, it will also have the colors from the other plies at that point but the green will show up as blips of color and will get accentuated by anything I wear that will is green. 

My recent scientific sampling (from the previous posts) has also led me to actually make a control card for this yarn. I have samples of the singles taped on to it and a plyback sample showing the amount of twist. You can see that in the bottom right of the card. A plyback sample is just letting the singles ply back on itself when it is freshly spun and the twist is active. I do plyback samples a lot but I never keep them. I just look at them, undo the plying and wind them onto the bobbin. I am doing this temporary plyback a lot while spinning this to make sure that I am maintaining the under-spun low twist desired state. I plan to put samples of the washed and unwashed 3-ply yarn on the card also. But I am not sure what I will do with it. This is why I don't usually make cards. Let's see. Maybe it will come in useful.

The low twist has resulted in a few times when I didn't have yarn. The singles just came apart and I had to go back to a spot where there was enough twist and then add more to the part that was falling apart. I hope the plying works because if it doesn't, it will be a pain to recover. This is why I started with a braid that I wasn't too enthralled by :-)

I am almost done with the second singles. I have about 8-10" to spin which is a couple of hours at most. The third one is the one with all the yellow-green, so I am looking forward to that and saved it for last as an incentive.